Syriac Orthodox Church
It is one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches who accept the councils of Nicea, Constantinople, and Ephesus, but reject Chalcedon. Its liturgical language is Syriac, though translations of liturgical texts into local languages are permitted. The Church traces its roots to the apostolic episcopal traditions of Antioch. In the 6th cent., it had a distinct line of patriarchs who resided outside of Antioch in various locations in the Near East until they settled, more or less, in Dayr al-Zaʿfarān near Mardin during the 13th cent. After the massacres known as Sayfo, the patriarchate was transferred to Ḥimṣ in 1933, and later to Damascus in 1957. Now, the patriarch resides at Maʿarrat Ṣaydnāyā. Since 1293 its patriarchs adopted the name Ignatius, after the 2nd-cent. bp. of Antioch. The current patr. is Ignatius Zakka I. The church is divided into (arch)dioceses, each headed by a bp. or archbishop who is under the jurisdiction of the patr. and accountable to the Holy Synod. Some archdioceses are ‘patriarchal vicarates’; the patriarchal vicar, regardless of ecclesiastical office, is accountable directly to the patr. The local head of the church in Malankara is the Maphrian (or Catholicos) who is under the jurisdiction of the patr. and is accountable to the Holy Synod and to the local Malankara Synod. He is consecrated by the patr. and presides over the local Holy Synod. The Church has been a member of the World Council of Churches since 1960 and is one of the founding members of the Middle East Council of Churches. The Church has issued two joint declarations with the Roman Catholic Church and another with the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch (see Ecumenical Dialogue). There are 400,000 to 500,000 adherents dispersed in the Middle East, Europe, the Americas, and Australia, in addition to ca. one million in India. The Church is sometimes known by the misleading and not acceptable names Jacobite and Monophysite (the term Miaphysite is acceptable).
See Fig. 114.
- S. P. Brock, ‘The Syrian Orthodox Church in modern history’, in Christianity in the Middle East. Studies in Modern History, Theology and Politics, ed. A. O’Mahony (2007), 17–38.
- Brock and Taylor, Hidden Pearl.
- C. Chaillot, The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch and All the East (1998).
- J. Joseph, Muslim-Christian relations and the inter-Christian rivalries in the Middle East: The case of the Jacobites in an age of transition (1983).
How to Cite This Entry
Footnote Style Citation with Date:
George A. Kiraz, “Syriac Orthodox Church,” in Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition, edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay (Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018), https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Syriac-Orthodox-Church.
Bibliography Entry Citation:
Kiraz, George A. “Syriac Orthodox Church.” In Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage: Electronic Edition. Edited by Sebastian P. Brock, Aaron M. Butts, George A. Kiraz and Lucas Van Rompay. Digital edition prepared by David Michelson, Ute Possekel, and Daniel L. Schwartz. Gorgias Press, 2011; online ed. Beth Mardutho, 2018. https://gedsh.bethmardutho.org/Syriac-Orthodox-Church.
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